Judge Will Set Deadline to Resolve Charlie White Election Dispute
Secretary of state's attorney to seek delay until criminal case is resolved
A judge is setting a deadline to settle whether Secretary of State Charlie White is eligible to hold the office.
Marion Circuit Judge Louis Rosenberg says Hoosiers need to know once and for all who the secretary of state is going to be. He'll set a deadline by Friday for the Indiana Recount Commission to issue a final ruling.
Democrats had urged Rosenberg to take control of the case himself, complaining the recount commission hadn't acted since Rosenberg sent the case back to the panel three weeks ago. The appointment of Republican Thomas Wheeler to temporarily fill the seat normally occupied by White himself has broken the logjam, and the commission has set a procedural hearing for next week.
Democrats had sought a three-week deadline. Rosenberg indicated he'll allow more time than that, but says he's not willing to wait indefinitely for a criminal case against White to be resolved.
White's attorney James Bopp will ask an appeals court to put the election challenge on hold. He says a quick hearing forces White to either mount an inadequate defense, or give up his Fifth Amendment rights in the criminal case.
Bopp says Democratic lawyers would have far more leeway to question White under oath than prosecutors would have on their own.
White is scheduled for trial in August on charges of deliberately using the wrong address on his voter registration. A felony conviction would force him from office, with Republican Governor Mitch Daniels picking a replacement.
But if the recount commission rules the faulty registration made White ineligible to run in the first place, the job would go to the election runner-up, Democrat Vop Osili.
Senate Republicans had floated a plan to change the law to let Daniels fill the vacancy under any circumstances, but House Republicans have killed that plan, saying the legislature shouldn't interfere in a pending case.